Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Politically Motivated 'Terror' Arrest

Earlier today, secret trial detainee Mohammed Harkat was rearrested at his home in Ottawa. The current form of his indefinite detention is house arrest under the harshest conditions in Canadian history. He has never been charged with a crime, nor has he ever had the opportunity to know the evidence against him or to defend himself in a fair and open trial.

The accusation is that he violated one of the extensive laundry list of conditions of his detention, which he, his wife, and his lawyer flatly deny. Did he try to flee? Or buy a bomb? Or do mean things to puppies? No, apparently his mother-in-law is looking for an apartment, and that's why he was rearrested. One of his conditions is that she live with them, and she still does, so how exactly this constitutes a violation is a mystery.

The mystery might be explained by looking at the timing of this arrest as it relates to other things that are going to be happening in the next week:

  1. Harkat himself has a hearing next Monday, in which he plans to seek a loosening of his conditions.
  2. Bill C-3 is currently up for third reading in the House of Commons, and opposition to it from grassroots groups across the country has been unexpectedly intense. This legislation is before Parliament because the law under which Harkat was detained was struck down a year ago, and this is to replace it. Minor changes have been made, but mainstream organizations like the Canadian Bar Association, the Quebec Bar Association, and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada have all indicated that it still would not meet constitutional standards.
  3. There is apparently a hearing before the Supreme Court on Thursday that has to do with CSIS, and Stockwell Day's department is expecting lots of negative publicity from it.

It is in the fine tradition of their mentors in Washington for the government to use a publicity stunt that plays with people's lives as a means of inflaming (racist) fear and nudging public opinion in the direction they desire. I suspect that is what is going on here.

Only time and organizing will tell whether this strategy works to their advantage or ends up exposing even more the rotten heart of the secret trial process and the Canadian national security state's harassment of Muslim men of colour and their communities.


Anonymous said...

Great post, Scott. I agree, it's a politcal manouever to arrest Harkat at this time. An extremely cruel and heartless manouver, I'd say.

See also Mike Larsen's recent blog entry. He also agrees that this whole thing really stinks.

thwap said...

While the Globe & Mail has been actually quite excellent for a mainstream paper on reporting about prisoners in Afghanistan and about the details of our security certificates, you also have to wade through swamps of mainstream drivel, and even when they report, they fail to get to the heart of the matter, the way good blogs like yours do Scott.

You've concisely described the thinking and strategy behind these nauseating actions on the part of our government.

Scott said...

Hi Brian! Hi Thwap! Thanks to both of you for your positive responses, and thanks to Brian for that link Mike Larsen's very thorough post on the issue...

Mike Larsen said...

Excellent post. I agree with your assessment of the sitution. I notice that today's Projected Order of Business for Parliament lists C-3 as the first bill up for discussion (and, presumably, vote). It will be interesting to see if Mr. Harkat's arrest is transformed into another talking point for the Conservative government.